Friday, March 13, 2015

Wymm Tea: Laohuangpian Sheng (Raw) Pu-erh From Ancient Tea Tree 2014 Spring, A Tea Review

Guys, I am going to level with you *temple rub* I feel like absolute crap. I am not sure if it is from the antibiotics my allergy specialist put me on (me and antibiotics do not mix, probably because I was always a Sentinel in Mass Effect) or because of the yogurt I have to eat to keep my body from freaking out completely. I know (maybe) that I don't have allergies (if that test is to be believed) but I have a growing suspicion I have a Histamine Intolerance, because all the foods that make me feel like I am dying are really high in histamines. Something to talk to the doctor about when I go back in a week-ish, basically, fair warning if yours truly seems ever so slightly out of it on the various social media places I linger. If you just know me from my blog...nevermind, carry on as usual.

Since it is spring, it seems fitting to take a look at a spring themed Puerh, specifically Wymm Tea's Laohuangpian Sheng (Raw) Pu-erh From Ancient Tea Tree 2014 Spring, Laohuangpian meaning old yellow leaf, refers to the use of the third and fourth leaves to make this brick, rather than the usual buds and first leaves used to make more 'prettier' puerhs. These bricks are usually kept by the farmers for their own uses and not much seen on the market. Sneaky sneaky, keeping the good stuff to themselves, maybe. Personally I think this tea is pretty, the tightly compressed green leaves with bits of silver fuzz, it looks like some treasure, specifically it reminds me of Labradorite but not as full of labradorescence, or maybe moss agate. It does not smell like a rock though, which may or may not be good (depends on what you are in the mood for) its fairly faint aroma is a blend of sweetness and green, like fresh cut grass and honey, with a tiny hint of smoke. The faintness of the aroma did not worry me like it would with some teas, those crazy compressed to the point of being like a brick teas tend to have a faint aroma, at least the ones I have experienced.

It is not really a surprise that this tea did not break up after the initial rinse, so I gave it two, and it was still pretty compressed. I poked it with my puerh pick to break it up a bit, not that I had much luck, and I admit I did not poke that hard, because wouldn't I feel like a real boob if I slipped and chipped my tiny Shui Ping. But now that the leaves are all hot and bothered, the aroma is much more intense, very leafy green like lettuce and fresh spinach, with a faint note of hay and honey, at the end there is a hint of mineral. The liquid is mild and sweet, a blend of honey and fresh hay, and also alfalfa (more teas need that note!)

Ok, I am going to start out by saying how much I love the mouthfeel of this tea, it is thick and almost creamy. When I hear the term soup or broth being used as the official way of describing the liquid state of tea, I always giggle a little because that is food, but the texture is quite brothy, almost sultry. The taste is a really neat blend of faint smokiness, sweet straw mushrooms, hay, honey, and a tiny bit meaty. It blends savory and sweet really well, much like how some BBQ sauces are rather sweet. As the tea cools it takes on a spinach and mineral note.

Second steep time, I honestly noticed no change at all to the aroma, except that the intensity of the notes were stronger. The taste is much the same at the beginning, that wonderful soupy texture is still present as well, this makes a happy me. Towards the midtaste a strong cooling effect takes hold and lingers well past the finish. It does not have the camphor taste that I usually associate with that level of cooling, but when it starts the taste turns more green, like spinach and broken grass.

Third time, the aroma has changed a bit, it is more green with a hint of smoke. There is still the sweetness of alfalfa and a touch of honey at the finish. Well well, what have we here! The texture is still the same (man that texture is killing me, in a good way, I love when my teas are thick and very noticeable) but the taste starts out differently. We start out with green beans, lima beans, and a bit of smoke, this moves into cooling mineral notes and a bit of cooked spinach. The finish is delightfully honey sweet and lingers.

As my usual Puerh adventures go, I traveled along with this one for several more steeps, sadly I did not get to go as long as I would like because I had to leave for the rest of the day, but I did get a total of six steeps in before that point. It stayed smooth and vegetal for the remainder of the session, with hints of smoke and honey at the finish. I really appreciated the fact that this tea never got bitter on me, it lacked the bite that some young Sheng puerhs can have, but that could be based on how I brew them. My secret is water temperature, I go to 195 degrees, tops, because I have found that hotter than that gets you that sharp, hoppy, bitterness that I am just not fond of. I will boil the daylights out of a Shou, but never again with a Sheng. I could see myself getting a brick of this tea and slowly hammering away at it like I am rock hunting and each chunk I tear off is a precious gemstone.

3 comments:

  1. I'm not familiar with that retailer, but their photographs for that tea are definitely unusual compared to the norm. I like. I don't typically drink much sheng, since the speculation market (and brick/bing mass) keeps prices fairly high. I do have a 2008 (if memory serves) bamboo leaf wrapped brick sitting in my cabinet, though.

    Do you prefer sheng that young, or are you getting a first impression for aging?

    For the lack of disintegration, I usually pry at a very shallow angle on my bing, which with a bit of luck gets you some flat flakes rather than chunks. The larger ones I usually try to skive down to something that'll break apart as well.

    For aged bings or bricks, do you usually take right off the block, or do you break them down and store them in chunks for airing?

    Thanks for the post!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your comment, this is by far one of the best I have gotten :)

      Left to my own devices and not being sent samples to review, I prefer older sheng, my absolute favorites have been those, though lately I have been really surprised by a few delicious young sheng that makes me change my tune. I think that is largely in part to doing more research and playing around with brewing parameters to find something that brings out excellent tastes. And yes, the prices are painful, I often find myself looking at an interesting puerh and thinking 'hmm, I could get this bing, or a substantial amount of my favorite oolong, or several new miniatures for my army, or a new game...' it is certainly a conundrum!

      For my (sadly small) pile of bings and large-ish Tuochas I usually just pry chunks of them off, in a perfect world I would have a fancy pu-midor and those scent-free bags to have them all nicely broken up. A girl can dream!

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    2. I recall having a small supply of young sheng once, probably samples, that I gave a try. It was I think pu'er shop; brews like a harsh green tea. I don't have much of a setup either unortunately; just a cabinet in the kitchen. Pu'er is nice, but I'm not sure I'll ever be dedicated enough to it for it to be worth some of the stuff we see with MarshalN or the Half Dipper.

      Which reminds me, I need to find a purpose for all this fu zhuan I have sitting about.

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